I am back, for the weekend at least. According to news released a few minutes ago, UN Security Council members China and Russia have vetoed a U.S.-drafted resolution demanding an “end to human rights abuses in Burma”. According to BBC News’ “Double veto for Burma resolution”,
US envoy Alejandro Wolff said he was “deeply disappointed” by Russia and China’s first joint veto since 1972.
South Africa, a new non-permanent member, also opposed the document.
The Bangkok Post newswire reports that ”
The double vetoes killed the draft resolution submitted by the US and backed by Britain. The vote by the 15-nation council stood at 9-3. The three negative votes were the two vetoes [by China and Russia] and South Africa’s nay. Indonesia, Qatar and Congo abstained.
All this, even though the UN resolution did not call for international sanctions and only asked the Burmese government
“to take concrete steps to allow full freedom of expression, association, and movement by unconditionally releasing Daw Aung San Suu Kyi and all political prisoners, lifting all constraints on all political leaders and citizens, and allowing the National League for Democracy and other political parties to operate freely.”
—“US Softens Burma Resolution Ahead of Council Vote”, The Irrawaddy
Apparently, Burma’s continued violations of UN Human Rights conventions and international law are not enough to persuade China and Russia to vote in favor of the Burma resolution. Obviously, both Russia and China have military and economic interests in Burma. China in particular is fond of having an undemocratic regime it shares borders with (also prosititutes, drugs, gambling and AIDS, for that matter) and wants water access to the Bay of Bengal through Burma, rather than through China’s east coastline. Russia, itself increasingly undemocratic, would contradict its own domestic problems, which include lack of freedom of expression.
I am personally saddened by this farce. The United Nations needs to demand authority and respect–it is a weak and feeble institution that seems to lack any legitimate power, unable to properly deal with member countries that have repeatedly failed to comply with its conventions. The Burmese people, who saw parliamentary election results 15 years ago (in 1991) have yet to see the results of the election. Economic interests should not sideline reform. When will the world finally realize that change needs to be made in Burma? In a Frontline documentary (“Burma: State of Fear”) I recently watched, Ludu U Sein Win, a respected Rangoon-based journalist, frankly said that if the Burmese people were not given freedom from oppression, they would ultimately resort to means of violence. Unfortunate to say, the National League for Democracy and Aung San Suu Kyi’s mantras of non-violence may be betrayed. The government can only restrain the people for so long. As in the words of U Sein Win, “The government cannot kill 50 million people.”